The British Society of Underwater Photographers (BSoUP)
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BSoUP Member's views

by Brian Pitkin

Reproduced from in focus 54 (March 1995)

Last autumn BSoUP asked its members to assist in planning future developments by completing a questionnaire. By the end of October, 57 of BSoUP's 300+ members had returned their completed questionnaires which Fleur Fillingham, our membership secretary and treasurer, has analysed. Although the returns up to that time represent only just over a quarter of our total membership the results of the survey may be of interest to members.

Of the respondents 49 were male and 8 were female, a ratio of about I : 6. All of the females and 40 of the males were white collar workers, the remaining 9 males were manual workers. 17 of the respondents were between 25 and 40; 26 were between 41 and 55; and 14 were 56 or more. If these figures reflect membership as a whole then BSoUP is not attracting younger members, in particular females.

Membership of BSoUP in terms of years was spread evenly through I -10 years, but there was a noticeable gap between 10 and 20 years, with 11 members retaining membership of the Society for 20 years or more!

Nearly half of the respondents attended monthly meetings only sometimes (23); fewer never attended monthly meetings (19); and the remainder attended most monthly meetings (15). Of the 37 respondents who had attended one or more meetings the majority thought the programme was good (29), excellent (3) or satisfactory (3). Only two of the respondents found the meetings disappointing. So it would appear that the monthly meetings cater for the needs of most members.

The Holland Club, current venue for our monthly meetings, was rated good by 20 members and satisfactory by 19 members. None thought the venue poor. 1 would have to agree that the venue could be better, although it has been redecorated since the questionnaires were sent out, but at the price we pay represents good value for money and parking is not a problem. Moreover, as Colin Doeg, one of BSoUP's founding members, has pointed out, there is no extraneous light!

The vast majority of members attending meetings rated the content interesting (33) or excellent (5)! Similar numbers found the range of topics covered interesting (32) or excellent(6)! Asked if they wanted more coverage of British waters the majority felt the balance was about right (23) whilst a significant minority wanted more (14). One member did not want more coverage of British waters! There was an overwhelming response to continue our monthly FOCUS ON competitions! Not one member expressed an interest in video!

The major reason for not attending monthly meetings appears to be distance from the venue (14), followed by work commitments (6). No surprises there! Two respondents wanted regional meetings.

Asked their opinion of the Society's newsletter, IN FOCUS, the majority found it interesting (35) or excellent (11). As far as content of the newsletter goes, members suggested the inclusion of colour photographs (5), more articles by members (5), articles on composition and technique (2), dark room techniques (2), salient points of BACK TO BASICS talks (1), hints on basic repairs (1) and practical tips (1), equipment reviews (1) and technical details of equipment (1), digital imaging (1), profiles on marine life (1) and lists of approved boats/skippers for photographers (1), British sites of special interest (1) and members (1).

It would certainly be nice if we could reproduce colour photographs, but for such a relatively small number of members, the cost would be very high, although members might be prepared to pay this? The newsletter editor has always solicited members to contribute articles and encouragingly 9 respondents to the survey were prepared to write articles. Now we have some idea of members needs, perhaps those who volunteered and any other BSoUP member, would like to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and start writing.

Asked what members liked about BSoUP, a significant number of respondents said they liked the informal atmosphere of the meetings (12) where they could share their interests in underwater photography with other members. Individual members commented on the enthusiasm (1), expertise (1) or helpfulness (1) of members and others on the good programme balance (1) and standard of presentations (1).

Asked what they didn't like about BSoUP, a few mentioned the central location of the meetings venue (6), and fewer still the fact that meetings never started on time (3). Individual members commented that they didn't know everyone (1), felt that the Society was too elitist (1) or insular (1), dominated by old hands (1). In respect of competitors one member commented that there was too much emphasis on competitions with narrow subject categories (1) and another felt that judging competitions by the audience present did nothing to improve standards (1)

Very encouragingly all respondents stated that they would be renewing their membership!

It could be argued that the 57 members who completed and returned questionnaires are those most likely to be positive about BSoUP. However, additional questionnaires were distributed and collected at the November meeting. When these have been, an update on members views of the BSoUP will appear in these pages. And of course your committee will act on any widely held views arising form the survey.

Our thanks to all those who completed questionnaires and to Fleur Fillingham who carried out the analysis on which this overview is based.

Reproduced from in focus 54 (March 1995)

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